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Go with the animal flow

Animal flow covers a series of sequences put together with everything from wrist mobilisation and waking up the body like a crab to travelling like an ape to improve strength, coordination, mobility and flexibility in the body, writes Barkha Shah
Last Updated : 12 February 2022, 19:15 IST
Last Updated : 12 February 2022, 19:15 IST

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Animal flow workout
Animal flow workout
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She is on all fours, flowing from one movement to another. She stands on her hands and then laterally travels like an ape, gradually moving to stretch like a crab. Her arms and legs scream for relief. But she refuses to stop. Swetha Devraj aka Sweaty Swetha is a globe trotter and has been passionately training people in animal flow workouts. A ground-based bodyweight movement, this system was developed by Mike Fitch from the US, to improve strength, coordination, mobility and flexibility.

Animal flow covers a series of sequences put together with everything from wrist mobilisation and waking up the body like a crab to travelling like an ape. Interestingly, it was inspired by break-dance, hand balancing, parkour and gymnastics.

“I was first introduced to animal flow by my business partner Devrath Vijay, when I was recovering from an ankle injury and wasn’t able to run. I pursued it further by attending a workshop in the Philippines. A year later, after learning from Master Instructors on Instagram, I met the creator of animal flow, Mike Fitch in Italy which is where I was asked to be a Master Instructor for India. Being a Master Instructor allows you to teach and certify other trainers as animal flow instructors,” she explains. There are 21 Master Instructors across the globe for animal flow. Swetha and Devrath are the only two from India.

The Instagram page of Swetha, where she posts fitness related pictures and videos, boasts of over 73k followers. A vascular radiologist by profession, Swetha juggled between the hospital, the crossfit gym and online training for some time. Her passion for fitness though consumed her eventually.

What Swetha loves about this workout is that it lets you focus on whatever your fitness goal is. “If you are a yogi, you already have flexibility and mobility, but you may want to work on strength. Animal flow can help you with that. If you are a body builder, a crossfit athlete or if you play sports as a profession, you can work on flexibility, mobility and power with animal flow,” she says, adding that it can be used as a corrective exercise in rehabilitation programmes for trauma patients. It can also help athletes recover from injuries. Swetha’s personal experience in dealing with her ankle injury is a case in point.

In times of coronavirus, this movement has seen an uptick. Not surprising, considering it does not require any gym equipment. “The only thing you need for animal flow is your body. Because of its style and its benefits, there is a lot of curiosity around it. I can personally vouch for it as it has made me physically fit, more aware of my body and its capabilities, and helped me push my boundaries. To be able to stand upside down while balancing on your hands and knowing where exactly to keep one of your feet for the next movement, makes you feel like a superhuman. It is also humbling at the same time, as some simple movements may
be undoable by you, showing you that there is so much room for improvement,” says Swetha, adding “every sequence or flow you create is new.”

Pooja Vinod Trindade, an avid fitness enthusiast was introduced to animal flow workouts in 2019. This fit mom has her evenings well-spent in fitness training of which animal flow workouts are a part. “You are squatting or balancing your body on the ground in a low position throughout. You don’t ever get up or stand. So, you can imagine what an intense workout this is,” she gushes. Pooja loves it though, “as it’s a great strengthening workout. Also, you’re imitating the movements of different animals, which makes it exciting and fun.”

Animal flow has been cathartic for her too, during the lockdown period. As Pooja says, “Animal flow has helped me immensely in attaining peace of mind during these tough times. It somehow helps me build focus and gives me the energy to take on the rest of the day. I feel positive and happy after an animal flow workout session.”

Besides not requiring gym equipment or a special place (can be done in the room, terrace, beach), this flow has takers among people of different age groups as well. “Because of the animal-like movements, kids find it fun. Seniors as well benefit from it as the movements are flexible enough to allow regressions. It is a great way to keep yourself mentally and physically fit, especially during the pandemic lockdown.” Swetha says.

Ask her what makes it different from other workouts and pat comes her sign-off, “It can make you feel like you did a great workout as well as meditated. It is a great change from other workouts.”

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Published 12 February 2022, 18:41 IST

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